Key Steps in Making an AAT Appeal

Australian Immigration law is complex. Even if you get 99% of your visa application right, your visa application could be refused if you fail to meet a single requirement.

If you have had a visa refusal or cancellation, you will in many cases be able to appeal the decision to the AAT (Administrative Appeals Tribunal). As this may be your last chance of getting a successful outcome, we would strongly recommend to consider professional assistance as soon as possible.

This article goes through the main elements of an AAT appeal and explains how Acacia can assist you with the process.

Initial Advice

As soon as you have a negative decision from the Department of Immigration, it is very important that you seek advice as soon as possible.

In particular, it is important to understand the reason for the refusal. If the refusal is due to a "time of application" requirement, this may mean that there are no prospects of success.

Acacia can review your decision record and give you a frank assessment of your likely prospects of success. During the consultation, we would also typically discuss possible strategies and documents which would be useful.

Lodge on Time

If you have had a cancellation or refusal, there is a very strict timeframe to submit your appeal. This is usually 21 days, but can be as little as 7 days and it is important to read the decision letter carefully to determine the critical date. If you miss the lodgement deadline, you may lose your right to appeal so it's essential to get this right.

Gather Information

The Department of Immigration maintains a file for each visa application lodged. As there may be valuable information in the Department of Immigration file to assist your case, it is vital that you obtain a copy of the file as soon as possible. You may also wish to obtain a copy of the AAT file.

It is possible to request a copy of the files through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Acacia would make this request on your behalf and ensure that you are working on complete information.


Often the best way to provide evidence to the AAT is through written submissions. These would need to address the legal criteria for the visa grant or cancellation. This would typically involve reviewing the Migration Act, Migration Regulations, Department of Immigration Procedures Advice Manual (PAM), as well as relevant caselaw at the Federal Court and AAT/MRT/RRT.

Acacia would prepare a legal submission, and also advise you on the best documentation to support your case.

AAT Hearing

You also may need to attend AAT hearing to have an opportunity to provide additional evidence to support your case. This can be a very daunting experience, and can make a critical difference to the outcome of your case.

Acacia would assist you in preparing for the AAT hearing and can attend it with you to make any necessary oral submissions.

Bridging Visas

Bridging visas can be complex, particularly where you have had a visa refusal or cancellation. It is important to maintain your legal status in Australia, and obtain work rights if possible.

Acacia can advise you on the necessary bridging visas and make any necessary applications for bridging visas, including for work rights or travel rights.

Other Visa Options

AAT is not always the best option. You may consider other more suitable, quicker or more cost effective visa option. Our Acacia adviser can assess your situation and look at different visa options for you.

Stay up to date - Subscribe to Immigration News!